Outside of Black Panther, Captain Marvel has been one of the only Marvel superheroes that I really didn’t know much about. So that alone had me excited, the idea of breaking into uncharted territory.
When Kree Starforce member Vers crash-lands on Earth during a conflict with terrorists of the Skrull race, she must decipher cryptic, recurring nightmares that will ultimately spell out her true purpose.
Now first things first, Vers, or Captian Marvel as we will come to know her as, is a complete bad ass. She can shoot photon blast out of her hands, and in turn these empower her punches to a point where she can send grown men/aliens flying across the room. Brie Larson plays the role with the right amount of glee and sass. The nightmares that the character is haunted by show many a time where she has basically been told she can’t do something, whether it be driving a go-kart or flying a jet, because she is a girl. So she takes it upon herself to prove them all wrong, putting many a jerk in their place. And Larson just owns it, not only is she physically able to perform such feats as fly kicking a Skrull in the face, but she is such an internal actor, that you can truly feel the rage and confusion behind those eyes.
Coupled together with Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury, the two make an excellent dynamic duo. And be it that the movie is set in 1995, some very impressive de-ageing effects are applied to the 70-year-old Jackson as well as his Shield co-worker Agent Coulson.
Another style of effect is applied to Aussie Ben Mendelsohn, as he is transformed into the alien Skrull, Talos. Now at first, I found the Skrull to look kind of silly, but Mendelsohn brings a humanity to them (alienity?) that grounds the character, and allowed me to look past the make-up.
As mentioned, the film is set in the 90’s, and being a 90’s kid myself I find myself asking ‘Why aren’t more movies set in the 90’s?’ It’s been long enough that it feels like a lifetime ago, and you can really crack into those nostalgic feels, like many movies that are set in the 80’s do for that generation. It was so fun to see Captain Marvel crash into a Blockbuster Video Store (signs of a better time indeed, I loved the video shop), making an intergalactic communication device out of old phones and a Game Boy ransacked from a Radio Shack, or even watching as our hero can’t understand what is happening as she waits for a CD-ROM to load. And there is a certain car chase scene, which brings back Terminator 2: Judgement Day vibes, the 90’s action blockbuster in my opinion, which is a very good thing.
I do wish they went a little bit further with their 90’s references though. What I’ve listed above are pretty much the extent of it, aside from a few choice 90’s tracks. But even there, I really feel like they could have had a lot more fun with the soundtrack, not unlike what Guardians of the Galaxy did with 70’s music (still one of the best soundtracks of all time). Speaking of Guardians, I would have liked there to be a stronger comedy presence in Captain Marvel. Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot to laugh at in this fish out of water tale, but they really could have ramped up the gags. Guardians comedy, this is not.
The only real issue I have with this film is the fact that Captain Marvel herself has a pretty weak character arc. Sure she learns a little bit more about herself and her past by the end, but she doesn’t particularly grow as a character too much. It’s brought up earlier in the film that she needs to control her emotions if she is to be the best version of herself. On further unpacking, I think this is supposed to show a way of how a man is telling a woman that she needs to stop being so emotional, but the way I took it was that a hero with such incredible powers would need to keep their emotions in check, so as to be able to use them in a productive way, as apposed to destroying an entire city block or something of the like. Either way you take it, this character ‘flaw’ never really amounts to anything, not getting much attention in the narrative, even though they point it out like it should.
At the end of the day though, this is fun, romp of a Marvel film. Especially given that she wasn’t put through much growth in this origin film, Captain Marvel is a character I look forward to seeing more of in the MCU, especially in next months Avengers: Endgame.
– Good Watch